Trader Talk

Pisani: Greece Taxing But Not Spending?

Greece is finally publishing a (somewhat) clear plan to reduce their deficit, half with tax hikes, half with spending cuts.


Mixed results from retailers, particularly the warehouse clubs.

1) Costco reported earnings of $0.70, a penny or two below consensus (the company had not provided any guidance). Higher expenses appear to have been a factor. U.S. February comp store sales were good: up 9 percent oveall, with U.S. sales up 5 percent, while inernational were up 26 percent.

2) Just like its rival Costco, Q1 earnings for BJ's Wholesale missed estimates ($0.95 vs. $0.96 consensus) amid tight margins. Same-store sales rose 4.6 percent in the quarter.

More importantly, BJ's guided F2010 EPS of $2.54 to $2.64, below conensus of $2.74.

The wholesale club reported that February comps were higher than expected (up 7.5 percent) despite being impacted by the wintry weather.

Morgan Stanley noted that for BJ's, winter storms had a negative impact of 2 to 2.5 percent to same store sales, while Super Bowl added 2 percent.

3) Big Lots rises 2 percent after topping estimates ($1.31 vs. $1.28 consensus) on strong sales and higher margins. Same-store sales for the discounter rose 5.1 percent — its greatest gain in 10 years. The firm also announced it is increasing its buyback program to $400 million.

They did offer some encouraging guidance. Q1 earnings are seen between $0.60 and $0.65, significantly above $0.53 consensus amid same-store sales growth of up 4 percent to 6 percent. Guidance for the full-year is also strong.

The recent trend of stronger guidance is providing optimism of stronger-than-expected retail sales numbers tomorrow, despite the stormy winter weather much of the Midwest and East Coast saw in February.

4) Keeping up with this trend, shares of home furnishings retailer Ethan Allen jump 9 percent pre-open after revealing it has seen improving traffic this year. As a result, year-to-date orders have risen 25 percent from the year-ago period.

5) Mortgage apps up but still weak: mortgage applications to purchase homes rose 9 percent last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, but it had previously fallen to the lowest levels since 1997.

6) Pfizer down 1% as a investigational Alzheimer's treatment done in conjunction with Medivation failed to meet key cognition tests in late-stage trials.

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